Lax Coach Mike: If You Must Go 6v6, Add Fun and a Purpose

By Mike Muetzel,

As most of you know from previous articles here on as well as our site, I am not a huge proponent of 6v6 for a half hour in practice each day. Yet I see and hear from coaches, especially at the youth and rec level, who spend 20 to 30 minutes practicing or scrimmaging in that configuration. Next to running line drills for 20 minutes or dragging your fingernails down a chalkboard, this really drives me crazy, as there are much better practice concepts out there.

First, 6v6 is just boring, especially for younger players, slow paced, and keeps the other 10 to 15 players standing around, usually not paying attention, and clearly not improving while they talk about anything but lacrosse. Secondly, the field is jumbled, the ball moves slowly, and I am not sure what we are really accomplishing. Frankly, all this adds up to not much fun for us or them. Now I am not suggesting that 6v6 is not important, only that there are better ways to get players more touches. Alternatively, going 4v4 or running transition drills will lead to increased stick skills as well as recognition from the offensive players.

Suffice it to say that any NCAA lacrosse coach will share that, in any given game on any given day, over 80% (usually more) of the goals scored in a game occur in some type of transition and in 6v6 it can be very difficult to score. Thus, we recommend focusing more practice time and/or lacrosse drills in those scenarios. Transition might be off a ground ball, a clear, somebody getting beat 1v1, a dropped pass, a quick in-bounds, or any one of a number of different situations. But regardless, the ratio of goals scored in 6v6 just does not generally warrant the amount of time most coaches spend in this area. I also recognize that most rec and HS rosters do not offer enough players to play 10v10, thus more time in 6v6. Spend time, but not 30% of your valuable practice time. Thus the emphasis on more transition drills.

However, if you are locked in to the 6v6 mentality, at least consider adding more variation and fun to increase your players' fundamentals. If a drill is more interesting, players will be more engaged. And if players are engaged, they are more likely to improve. We can still run the drill similar to a college coach by increasing the variations from day to day and limiting the drill to a seven or 10 minutes duration, as college coaches often do in their practices.

So here are some of interesting twists we hear from NCAA coaches to spice it up, even if we are using 6v6, to make slides and recognition fun.

1. Inform players that for the time we are practicing 6v6, we are going to focus purely on slides from the crease. And we are going to have only one designated sliding defender. As the ball works around the outside, the crease defender can slide early and often, anytime he wants to go. If you are coaching U13 or younger, one tip that has worked well for us has been to put the crease defender in a different colored pennie than the offense or the defense (for example, bring three red pennies to practice each day) similar to an NFL quarterback in a red jersey at practice. This offers the opportunity for all the offensive players to see the red pennie defender coming and to quickly pass accordingly.

2. After six to seven minutes, switch the designated slider to an adjacent slide. Now as the ball moves with passes around the outside, on the first or second revolution the next designated sliding defender slides early, and we move the ball accordingly.

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